_ March Madness did not provide a reprieve. This has been the lowest scoring version of the NCAA tournament since the 3-point line came into effect in 1987, at 131.2 points per game.
Given those numbers, it seems almost fitting that the tournament’s most enduring moment was cringe-worthy: the compound leg fracture suffered by Louisville guard Kevin Ware. And then, in the run-up to the Final Four, there was the unsavory story of Mike Rice, coach of a losing program at Rutgers who got fired for his brutish tactics during practices.
“A failure of process,” school president Robert Barchi called the Rice fiasco, which also led to the resignation of the athletic director, who failed to fire the coach when first presented with video evidence of his abuse.
While that story keeps unfolding over the offseason, the leaders in college basketball will spend the time off trying to clean things up on the court.
Raftery predicts the sport’s powers will take a long look at the “arc” _ that befuddling semicircle drawn underneath the basket that a defensive player cannot be standing in if he hopes to draw a charge call.
“They’re going to do some things with the rules,” Raftery said. “But I enjoy the game, so it doesn’t really offend me the way it does a lot of my pals.”
But he, too, thinks the number of video reviews needs to be pared.
Officials stop action to parse through college’s very specific rules on flagrant fouls, which call for checking the video any time one player’s elbow makes contact with another’s head, whether it’s obviously intentional or not. Refs also stop play to determine whether shooters are behind the 3-point line and to put tenths of seconds back on the clock late in games. Those stoppages often deprive fans of a bang-bang, sometimes fantastic finish so officials can huddle around video monitors to study the clock while coaches huddle with their teams to draw up a play.
Louisville coach Rick Pitino said he remembers the same sort of troubles bogging down play in the NBA when he coached there in the 1980s and `90s. The commissioner, David Stern, called some of the sport’s best minds into a room and they started figuring out how to make things better.
Pitino said it all comes down to “freedom of movement,” which can only be assured if the officials start calling the games more tightly, doing away with all the grabbing, hand-checking and arm-barring that clogs up the flow of these games.
“The only way to do it is the first 10 games of the season, the games have to be ugly,” Pitino said of the extra stoppages and free throws that could ensue while refs try to clean things up. “Then the players will adjust, then you’ll see great offense again. Like the NBA now, you see all those great scoring teams. Now they have a great product, and we need to go the route of the NBA.”
AP National Writer Paul Newberry in Atlanta contributed to this report.